A retired Foursquare Army chaplain who pastors a growing church in South Carolina is one of 47 translators who served on the committee that produced a forthcoming, updated version of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.
The Modern English Version (MEV) is scheduled for release Sept. 2 by Charisma House. Rob Noland, senior pastor of Restoring Hope (Chester Hope Foursquare Church) in Chester, S.C., worked on 10 books in the Old and New Testaments.
“I have always felt a gift for understanding Scripture,” says Rob, who earned a pair of master’s degrees in divinity and religious education from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. “As I worked with the books, my goal was to help make them understandable to others. I felt the Holy Spirit often led me in finding the right words that were true to the meaning that God had intended for the Scriptures to say.”
The new KJV originated with Jim Linzey, a former Army chaplain who set out to produce an updated version of the New Testament nine years ago. Now a Southern Baptist evangelist, he formed the Military Bible Association to promote the MEV. His goal was to provide chaplains a tool for counseling soldiers who couldn’t understand the KJV’s language and phrasing.
Initially, Jim used other military chaplains for the task. However, he eventually decided to expand the committee to include civilian scholars. After he took that step, Charisma House—a publishing house whose core audience is Pentecostals and charismatics—offered a contract for a complete Bible.
Jim and Rob met while Rob was command chaplain at the Army Reserves Medical Command in St Petersburg, Fla. Rob was an Army reservist from 1983–1996 and on active duty from 1996–2008 as a recruiter and supervising/training chaplain for reserve chaplains. As their friendship grew, Jim found himself impressed with Rob’s scholarly credentials. That led to his invitation to Rob to join the committee.
Although many KJV supporters profess to follow the 1611 version, Jim says most actually use a 1769 update published by Oxford University Press. He notes that the MEV simply follows that pattern by using more modern English, yet relying on the same primary sources as the KJV.
As evidence of the need for an update, Rob says that while he often uses the KJV in his studies, he seldom preaches from it.
“I have always thought the KJV was a good translation of the Scriptures,” Rob says. “However, the language was often very outdated and difficult for the average person to understand. I think the idea of bringing the KJV into a more modern language format while maintaining the accuracy of the KJV is a worthwhile goal.”
Rob, who served as executive pastor of Stockbridge Foursquare Church in Stockbridge, Ga., while winding down his Army career in 2007–2008, spent about two years working on his portion of the project. Sometimes the words and structure came quickly. Other times, Rob says, he “hit a wall” and had to walk away for up to a month before returning.
To demonstrate the revised wording, here are several comparisons of verses Rob translated:
- Genesis 1:1-2 of the KJV (1769) says: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The MEV says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water.”
- First Timothy 6:10 (KJV): “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. The MEV phrases it: “For the love of the money is the root of all evil. While coveting after money, some have strayed from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
- James 1:12 (KJV) reads: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” The MEV says: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he is tried, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
Since becoming senior pastor of Restoring Hope about two years ago, Rob has seen average attendance increase from 35 to 50. He hopes both his members and other members and pastors in the Foursquare family will find the MEV a worthwhile translation.
“I hope they will find the language modern and refreshing, while finding the content to be very accurate to the intended Word of God,” Rob says.